Apologies made for racist comments attributed to mayor
West Columbia City Council addressed racist comments at its meeting, Monday.
Two West Columbia Councilmen voiced apologies for racist comments allegedly made by Mayor Joe Owens. And Cora Washington, an African -American West Columbia resident also said she had a confrontation with the mayor.
Washington told council that on Sept. 9, Owens came to her home on Monticello Street. She said Owens questioned her for having a campaign sign of Bobby Horton in her yard. Washington said she felt intimidated.
Before Washington spoke, two councilmen talked.
“At no time is it ever acceptable to make degrading or racist comments,” said Council Chairman B.J. Unthank. He also said that Owens, who was not at the meeting, should apologize.
Owens is accused of saying Councilman Boyd Jones, who is Black,, “went N*****” on him.
Owens also said in a recorded telephone conversation that “I ought to whoop his little black ass in a minute,” referring to Jones, and according to West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall, who recorded the conversation.
Unthank said Jones is a very much valued colleague and member of city council. He also apologized to the African -America community for Owens’ remarks.
Councilman Dale Harley said Owens behavior was disturbing and offered a “sincere apology.”
Owens has denied that it is his voice using the racial slurs, but Harley said it is no doubt that it is Owen’s voice.
“Racist remarks have no place in our society,” Harley said.
Councilman Tem Miles made a motion that Unthank’s and Harley’s comments be recorded to the minutes of the meeting, and that motion passed unanimously.
After the councilmen made statements, Washington spoke.
She said she wanted to end the conversation with Owens when he came to her residence, but he told her “Boyd Jones was filling her head up with lies.”
Washington said Owens also made derogatory statements about Jones and Horton. She said Owens told her his father was part Indian and he was good to black people.
Washington filed a police report about the incident with Owens.